Fantasy wargame: Warhammer
Warhammer owner Games Workshop has come under fire after teaming up with a video game company with ties to Russia.
The company stopped selling its fantasy figurines in Russia soon after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
But it appears that Games Workshop has been licensing its intellectual property to Cyprus-based studio Owlcat Games, which has Russian investors.
In December, Owlcat released a game called Rogue Trader on platforms including Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
The game’s branding features the Warhammer logo prominently and is designated as an ‘official licensed product’, indicating it has Games Workshop’s stamp of approval.
A statement from the Moral Rating Agency, an organisation that collects data on companies doing business in Russia, said: ‘People who play Warhammer or other Owlcat games are indirectly supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Games Workshop could have chosen to license to a partner without Russian links.’
A spokesman for B4Ukraine – a group aiming to stop global firms dealing with Russia – added: ‘This is shameful corporate behaviour.’
When contacted by The Mail on Sunday, Owlcat said it previously had a development house in Russia, but its teams left the country in 2022 and it no longer operates there.
One of Owlcat’s backers was GEM Capital, a Russian investment house founded in 2017 by Anatoly Paliy, a former executive at Russian state-backed oil and gas giant Gazprom. Owlcat was said to have received at least $1 million (£790,000) in funding from GEM.
Paliy started energy firm First Oil in 2013. One of his partners was Mark Garber, who was on the board of a Russian firm founded by sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
GEM’s current portfolio includes an investment in Cyprus-based video game studio Mundfish, which Ukraine accuses of spreading pro-Russian propaganda.
Games Workshop did not respond to requests for comment.